Dave Andrews certainly isn’t trying to create a bar-like atmosphere in his classroom, but there is a line in the theme song from the old television show Cheers that probably resonates with the kinesiology professor: “You want to go where everybody knows your name.”
Wanting to dispel the notion planted in many high school students’ heads that they’ll be just another number when they go to university, Dr. Andrews sets out to memorize the names of each and every one of the more than 200 students in his first-year anatomy class by the end of the semester.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on here is that it is a family and we will get to know you,” Andrews said. “It makes them feel pretty good and if that’s a little thing that I can do to keep them coming back here and enjoying the program, then I’m glad to do it.”
At the beginning of the semester, Andrews creates a master list of all his students and keeps meticulous notes on such details about them as their height, whether they wear glasses or specific articles of clothing. He takes the list home and studies it and then during the final class of the semester, quizzes himself by going through the entire class, rattling off each student’s name and explaining to them how he remembered them.
“I try to link every person I can with something to help me remember and then I just do it over and over again,” he said. “It’s a lot of work but I’m trying to get them to memorize a ton of information in anatomy so this is like my way of showing them that I can do the same thing.”
This year he scored 100 per cent, correctly naming each of the 220 students who attended the final class. Andrews, who began the “The Great Name Game” initiative a few years ago because he wanted to improve on the interaction with his students in a large class, admits he had limited success on his first attempt.
“I only got about 87 per cent and so some of the people were left out and I felt horrible about it,” he said. “So I was determined last year to get everybody.”
Second year student Cassandra Viselli said the entire experience helped her get to know the other students in her class and make her feel welcome in the kinesiology program.
“You leave high school with the thought that your professors won’t care about you and Dr. Andrews refutes that,” she said.
Ivo Frankovich, another student in the class said the initiative puts Andrews on a more personal level with his students.
“It shows that he cares about his students,” he said.